Salima Tete: Series against SA helped us test several combinations ahead of Pro League

Newly-appointed Indian women’s hockey captain, Salima Tete said the six-match friendly series against South Africa had helped her understand the team dynamics better and also provided insights into the areas that need “refinement” ahead of the gruelling European leg of the FIH Pro League.

Salima, 22, who was part of the Asian Champions Trophy-winning side in 2023, took over as captain from Savita Punia earlier this month and led the side against South Africa at home, winning the series 4-2, here.

“The series served as a pivotal platform for us to explore and test various player combinations, leveraging the participation of all 24 members from our FIH Pro League squad,” said Salima, a mid-fielder, in a Hockey India release on Saturday.

“This collective effort not only enhanced our coordination on the field but also provided a comprehensive understanding of our team dynamics. We remained steadfast in our commitment to executing a pressing game style while adhering to the foundational aspects of our game structure.

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“This approach not only honed our skills but also illuminated areas ripe for refinement and growth,” she added.

India won the first three games 1-0, 5-1, and 3-1 respectively, but South Africa came back strongly, clinching victories in the fourth and fifth ties before the hosts earned a hard-fought 4-3 win in the last game on Saturday.

With the European leg of the FIH Pro League 2023-24 set to commence soon, the series served as a good exposure for India to fine-tune its strategies.

Tete, a veteran of more than 100 appearances for the country, added that the series also provided learning opportunities to the younger players in the squad.

“The series proved to be an enriching experience for our younger players, offering them invaluable insights into the intricacies of our team’s operations and the expectations placed upon them.

“It was a journey of discovery and development, equipping our emerging talents with the knowledge and understanding necessary to thrive in the competitive landscape of international hockey.” The European leg of the FIH Pro League 2023-24 will take place in Belgium and England. The Belgium leg will take place from May 22 to 26, followed by the England leg starting on June 1 and concluding on June 9.

India will face formidable opponents such as Argentina, Belgium, Spain, Great Britain and Germany during the Pro League. India will begin its campaign against Argentina on May 22.

India is currently placed sixth in the Pro League 2023-24 standings with eight points from eight matches.

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